Luxury food and drink retailer The East India Company is to open a store at London’s Royal Exchange as part of expansion plans.

The store-opening programme has been sparked by new investment the retailer secured from United Arab Emirates-based grocer LuLu Group, which took a 40% stake in the business last week for an undisclosed sum. Reuters reported Lulu invested $82m (£51.3m) in the business.

The East India Company’s chief financial officer and commercial director Arvinder Walia told Retail Week the retailer could have up to 15 shops in the capital, as well as further stores across the UK.

The retailer has three UK stores at present, two in London in Mayfair and Covent Garden, and one at Bluewater.

Walia said: “We could have a minimum of seven shops in London, we could even have 14 to 15. There are locations that are attractive to us in terms of luxury positioning.

“We’re keen to have another store in Covent Garden, we feel there’s enough footfall not to cannibalise sales.”

He said the retailer was also eyeing stores in affluent areas across the UK, including Windsor, Bath, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Manchester, Harrogate, York and Brighton.

He said the retailer would look to open the shops as soon as the right locations became available.

“We’re looking at locations where there is a propensity to spend on luxury goods, an upbeat economy, and substantial tourist footfall.”

Long history

The retailer’s shop at the Royal Exchange will cover 600 sq ft and is expected to open in the first week of November, in time for peak trading.

The East India Company has shared history with the Royal Exchange. The retailer stored pepper in the basement vaults of the London landmark in the 17th Century.

Walia said the business was eyeing small stores sized between 500 sq ft and 800 sq ft in the capital to “maximise yield per sq ft”.  

The East India Company operates three stores in the Middle East and also wholesales to 16 countries. The retailer is to use Lulu’s investment to expand in Europe, the Far East and US.

Lulu group managing director Yusuff Ali said: “We see a tremendous opportunity in supporting The East India Company’s continued development into a global luxury brand.”

Walia said the retailer is trading well, enjoying “double-digit” sales growth year on year.

“We’re unique in the market place, we’re not just a tea store,” he said. “There’s Fortnum and Mason but we feel people have a greater brand connection with us. Our historical connection brings customers closer to us.”

The East India Company was originally set up to promote trading with the East Indies and was granted a Royal Charter from Queen Elizabeth in 1600.

The East India Company is now majority-owned by London-based businessman Sanjiv Mehta.